The text approved by the Education Committee calls for a budget of 14 billion Euro from 2014 to 2020 and the possibility to ask for financing to pursue a Master’s degree abroad
A 40% increase in the budget available, almost double the amount of scholarships distributed and, for the first time, personal loans up to 18,000 Euro to pursue a Master’s degree abroad. To combat dramatic levels of youth unemployment, the European Union aims to multiply job opportunities and training. The European Parliament’s Education Committee approved results of the negotiations with the Council on the Erasmus+ Education Programme, which will permit more than 5 million youth between the ages of 13 and 30 to study, train or participate in volunteer activity abroad.
The text voted by the MEPs foresees a budget of 14 billion € for the period of 2014-2020, a much higher figure than the previous one available between 2007 and 2013. Erasmus+ combines all the current programs which were separate until now (like Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Leonardo da Vinci, and Comenius) under an umbrella program that should allow for quicker payment of scholarships to recipients. Then for the first time, training opportunities in the sports field are introduced to the program which can help combat violence, discrimination and doping.
However, perhaps the most important novelty is the opportunity for students to ask for loans to pursue a Master’s degree abroad. The European Union is ready to loan, through Erasmus+, up to 12,000 € for a one year program and up to18,000 € for a 2 year program. Financing that under no circumstances, the MEPs emphasized, will replace the system of loans or grants made available by individual member states. According to the MEPs’ proposal, the amount of scholarships must be suited to the cost of living of the host country and the member states will be exempt from any taxes in this regard.
With Erasmus+ “we have a grouping of very useful programs that will however continue to maintain each of their own characteristics” explained the text rapporteur, Doris Pack (European People’s Party -EPP), hoping that “the program will have as much success as it has in the past.” “Today’s vote is another important step for all young European students who, beginning next year, can benefit from an even stronger and more competitive Erasmus” commented the Head of the Italian Delegation of EPP, Giovanni La Via.
After the Education Committee’s vote, it will be up to Parliament to give the green light for the program with a final vote scheduled in November’s Plenary Session. If the text consequently will be approved by the Council, Erasmus+ should start operating as early as January 1st 2014.